Gulf stocks dive in Q4 due to slump in oil prices
Stock markets in the energy-rich Gulf states dived in the fourth quarter due to the slump in oil prices after posting strong gains in the first nine months of 2014.
All the seven bourses ended the October to December period in the red amid a wave of panic sell-offs after oil lost about 50 percent of its value because of weak demand, a glut in production and a strong US dollar.
In the fourth quarter, the Saudi stock market slumped 23.2 percent, Dubai dived 23 percent, Oman dropped 15.2 percent and Kuwait by 14.3 percent. Abu Dhabi dipped 11.2 percent, Qatar lost 10.5 percent and Bahrain was 3.4 percent down.
But by the end of 2014, four markets -- Qatar, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain -- posted annual gains while the Saudi, Kuwaiti and Omani bourses recorded dips.
Oil income makes up around 90 percent of revenues of most of the Gulf states which are forecast to lose half of their oil revenues, which stood at $729 billion in 2013.
"The fall in the fourth quarter was a direct result to the sharp drop in oil prices," said Humoud al-Sabah, senior analyst at Kuwait Financial Center (Markaz).
"Most of the Gulf bourses ended the first three quarters with strong gains but shed most of it due to the impact of oil prices," Sabah said.
He said Gulf shares performed well in the first three quarters despite turbulent geopolitical developments especially the expansion of Islamist State jihadists in Iraq and Syria and the start of the US-led air campaign against them.
The capitalisation of the seven bourses, however, rose by around $70 billion to $1.04 trillion at the end of 2014 from $970 billion a year ago.
But they shed around $131 billion from their value on September 30.
The Saudi Tadawul All-Shares Index (TASI), the largest bourse in the region, closed the year down 2.4 percent at 8,333.30 points after repeatedly dipping below the 8,000-point mark.
During the year, TASI had surged by over 30 percent but was pulled down mainly by the leading petrochemicals sector, which dived 33.7 percent in the fourth quarter.
The drop came despite the kingdom issuing a highly expansionary budget for 2015 but which projected a deficit of around $39 billion.
Dubai Financial Market (DFM) Index, which has increased steadily for the past three years, was the most volatile in 2014, surging by about 60 percent in the year before losing most of the gains in the fourth quarter.
The DFM Index ended the year up 12 percent at 3,774.00 points after dipping below the 2013 close in December.
Its neighbouring Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange also relinquished most of the year's gains but ended 2014 up 5.6 percent on 4,528.93 points.
Qatar Exchange, the second largest in the Gulf, emerged as the top gainer with 18.4 percent on 12,285.78, after surging close to the 14,000-point mark on several occasions.
Kuwait Stock Exchange was the biggest loser, dropping 13.4 percent to 6,535.72 points.
Muscat Securities Market ended 2014 down 7.2 percent at 6,343.22 points, while the tiny Bahrain bourse finished the year up a healthy 14.2 percent at 1,426.57 points.